I’ve lived in Chicago for a little over 2 years, and have never been downtown during NYE. This year, Shey and I decided to go to the John Hancock Observatory (now called 360) and spend the new year in the sky!
We checked into the Cambria Hotel off of Michigan Avenue (AKA Magnificent Mile), and fell in love with our suite. The hotel was only 1 block away from the John Hancock Building, which made walking around in Chicago at midnight super easy. The amazing part of the hotel? The rooftop bar with great food and drinks.
The rooftop bar outlooks Chicago, and was a great viewing spot to see the star rising. Chi-town Rising is a new way for Chicagoans to celebrate the new year, and usually the line-up is filled with Chicago-based artists.
As soon as we checked into the John Hancock Building, we made our way up 94 flights. 360 houses the entire floor, and rides on the Tilt (check out the video below!) were free all night long. Only real complaint? No coat check, so we had to claim our spot to put our jackets down.
Even though there was a DJ, I wish there were more seats and tables so that more people could mingle. Towards the end of the night, everyone huddled around the windows closest to Navy Pier for the firework show. Given that we were all still holding onto our coats, it got a little snug.
The views were amazing, and the experience was worth it. I’m sure that there are other places to view the fireworks or spend NYE in Chicago, so this is not the only way to have a good time.
Financially speaking, I think that this outing might not be the best for college/graduate students. As a graduate student, I am always trying to stretch my stipend out in the best way. This is a rough breakdown of the costs associated with the night:
- Cambria Hotel – $250
- Dinner & Drinks at 52Eighty – $50
- Tickets to 360 NYE in the Sky – $120 ($60 each)
- Valet for parking – $70
- Total: $490
Eek! That’s a bit much to do every year, but I’m glad that we spent the night out this one time. If you want to check out other rooftop bars in the city, I’ve heard amazing things about Cindy’s. You’ll have to make a reservation a few weeks (and sometimes months) ahead of time. For a fireworks show, Navy Pier sets off fireworks twice a week during the warmer months. You could get a good view of the show from Cite, or just lay on the beach by the lake to watch the fireworks.
Next year we may be spending NYE in San Diego, or back here in Chicago. Until then, we wish you an amazing start to the new year!